Friday, October 26, 2007

Spider pumpkin

We had a pumpkin decorating contest at work today. It started yesterday, but today was the grand show and judgement. I normally don't go in for fun stuff like this at work, but prodded by my VP, I joined our group team and wound up leading us to what I hope will be a winning entry. So here's the way it all went down.

There are three categories where prizes will be awarded - most creative, scariest and funniest. Carving was prohibited because it would be messy and increased risk of injury for employees (this is a work event, after all). We brainstormed on some ideas gathered from Web sites like, where I saw one of a spider made by two pumpkins attached together. I originally wanted to go a whole set of five pumpkins painted yellow to represent the Simpsons family, but that was going to take too long, and we only had a day and a half to do it. One of the other girls suggested a "Hairy Potter" theme along the same line, but I didn't think that was particularly creative or funny. So we settled on the spider model and wanted to make it scary.

We started by jamming two chopsticks into each fruit to join them together, wrapping the joint with some black felt to cover up the gap. Then we painted both black using the poster paint provided to us. We punched holes in the felt and attached the pipe cleaner legs. The two big eyes were plastic half eyeballs and the small ones are pistachio shells, both painted with purplish-black nail polish, then a coat of clear on top to make them glassy. The fangs are whole cashew nuts, filed down with a nail file on one end to superglue them to the pumpkin, then painted with white correction fluid and tipped with blood-red nail polish. The Black Widow mark on the spider's abdomen was created by simply scratching out the familiar hourglass shape with a pencil, then carefully peeling the dried poster paint away, exposing the orange of the pumpkin skin underneath.

We sat our creation on a table spread with fake spider webbing, then scattered in the web tiny rubber mice, little glittery spiders, ladybugs made with red pipe cleaners rolled into balls and dabbed with black paint, and some feathers to suggest avian prey. The word "flack" is a derogatory name for what we do, public relations ("spin doctor" is a less offensive euphemism). The whole setup reminds me of Hagrid's pet spider Aragog as seen in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Or maybe Shelob's lair in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

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The competition was surprising intense. I kept our project carefully under wraps the entire time so no one would steal any of our ideas, even going as far as locking my door when I left, and keeping the spider under newspaper wrapping during the day when it sat on my desk. Every once in a while, competing teams would swing by and beg for a peek, but I turned them all away. It got to the point where I caught one guy trying to sneak into my office while I was out! But the result was that there were some very strong entries. Here's my vote for funniest:

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The VP was very impressed with our work (she couldn't actually participate as much because, well, she's a VP). When we were setting it up, she commented that she's never seen me so competitive. My ex used to say that too, and my family has also remarked on it. My personality is that I've very competitive on things that are supposed to be fun, like games, sports and contests (especially those that involve being creative). However, when it comes to things in life, like work, getting ahead, making money - I'm really not that aggressive. It's not in my nature to screw people over or get tough with people to get ahead or get important work done. My ex used to wish I had as much drive to succeed in business as I do to win a game of backgammon, but that's not me. I suppose we all have to have an outlet for the competitive fires that drive us. Most of us put it in our work, some put it in art, and some put it into games and contests. It's just our nature.

Anyway, in other news, I see that the Angel box set is coming out at the end of the month, so that's on my Christmas wish list!

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I visited Karina today when I had to go out to the drugstore this morning next to her office to buy some superglue for the spider eyes and fangs. Her teeth are much better now, and we talked about the idea of her making a career change. She's not happy at the bank and is looking for something else to do. Tonight I'm going with Lori to visit MOMA for the first time, and it should be fun. I ate way too much at our staff lunch of Mexican food, so I won't be eating dinner tonight.

I've got my fingers crossed on the outcome of the Halloween contest which should be announced in about an hour. Wish me luck!